Me, Myself and Horseracing…
Before I start I would just like to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about me.
I am a 22 year old conditional jockey living in Middleham (North Yorkshire). I’m originally from a small town called Haddington which is only a stone’s throw away from Edinburgh. Horseracing is my passion and I consider myself very fortunate to make a living from a sport I love.
I hope my weekly column can be of interest and give you an insight if my day to day life, on and off the course! No doubt there will be a few laughs along the way…..
Monday 17th December
If the weather forecast is accurate for the week ahead we will have a few problems as far as racing is concerned as there is meant to be what looks like a monsoon on the horizon, we are going to need a fair bit of luck. This morning I went into Mark Johnston’s for four lots and was done around 1pm. With no racing today and because I did a lightweight yesterday I didn’t want to gorge too much and put all the weight back on, so after riding out I took the dogs a walk around Middleham’s high moor and only had a small lunch afterwards. If you’re not careful for day or two after doing light your weight will bounce like there’s no tomorrow, I’ve made that mistake in the past and learned from it. Not only that but I want to try and keep nice and light this week so no matter what weight I will have on boxing day I can hopefully still have a bit of Christmas dinner. There’s nothing worse than watching everyone else sat around the table on Christmas day getting stuck into the turkey with all the trimmings dinner and not being able to have any for yourself.
I booked the football hall in Catterick for 8.30pm before rounding up the usual lads to come for along for a kick about. Its great way to keep the fitness levels up but more importantly keep the weight down!!
I got back from the football at 10.15pm and got the laptop out as soon as I got in. I have two rides tomorrow and having never ridden any of them in a race before I wanted to watch 2 or 3 of each horse’s replays just to try find out the best ways to ride them.
Tuesday 18th December
With Catterick only 20 minutes down the road I managed to squeeze 3 lots in this morning before heading off racing where I had 2 rides. My first ride was the Tracey Waggot trained Bright Applause in the 2 mile 3 furlong novices’ hurdle. There was no pace in the race and my horse had already won on the flat from the front so I decided to bite the bullet and make the running on him, he ran well and was still bang in contention turning in but just got a little tired on the ground. He will no doubt be more competitive in his own grade at handicap level. My second ride was Oniz Tiptoes who is trained by John Wainwright and was running in the 3 mile 1 furlong handicap hurdle. This horse is a veteran and probably knows more about racing than you and I put together, he has more than 100 runs to his name. He was on and off the bridle all the time but stayed on very strongly up the straight to pass tired horses. He just needed the run so will strip fitter for the outing and no doubt will be in the winner’s enclosure at some point this season.
Wednesday 19th December
There was no northern racing at all today. I went in and rode out 4 lots as I would most mornings before returning home to what ended up being an extremely sad afternoon. I’ll explain, all 3 of the dogs were taken up the moor in the jeep as they are most days then let out for a good run about. This time however mine and Kelly’s dog Bonnie jumped out of the bushes and went straight under the back wheel, she was killed instantly. She was only 15 months old and after everything that had happened last week as well, it broke my heart digging a hole to lay her in. She really was the most beautiful perfect little dog you could have wished for and will be sorely missed; life really can be incredibly cruel at times. Rest In Piece Bonnie :'( …..
Thursday 20th December
If today was anything to go by we are certainly not going to be getting a white Christmas but a very very wet one. Exeter was abandoned this morning and Towcester only just got the green the light and no more, tomorrow’s meeting at Uttoxeter has also been dropped due to weather. Newcastle is meant to be my next port of call on Saturday but that is now looking extremely doubtful. It was miserable and wet but the horses need exercising nonetheless so I went into Mark Johnston’s for four lots. If you follow me on twitter (@Zander_Voy) you will have seen I was answering questions organised by Gordon Brown for Scottish Racing from a few sources including trainers Lucinda Russell and Keith Dalgleish and Jockeys Wilson Renwick and Brian Hughes and a few others. The best question had to of been from fellow Scot, Wilson Renwick – “How often do you whiten those pearly shiny teeth?” It was clear that it was just banter as he would have no interest in such a product as he is well known for being Mr grumpy and rarely smiling.
Friday 21st December
My thoughts regarding Newcastle tomorrow turned out to be spot on as they abandoned the fixture this morning which now means there will be no racing until Boxing Day all being well. It’s a nightmare for everyone all these abandonment’s, but if somehow all the meetings survive on the 26th I would be hoping for a good book of rides and try to fill the cracks the weather has made this month.
I did go in to ride out this morning and even managed to stay dry which was a bit of a bonus. There are a few other jump lads that ride out for Mark Johnston as well, Richie McGrath, Barry Keniry, Catherine Walton and Adam Nicol shows face from time to time.
It was Karl and Elaine Burkes yard Christmas party tonight at the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham so with no racing tomorrow at least I was able to go to this one, every cloud has a silver lining I guess! It was good to get stuck in to a 3 course meal then wash it down with a few gins. I did work a lot of it off by pulling some shapes the dance floor afterwards though.
Saturday 22nd December
Although I had a late night I still got up early and went into ride out this morning, but when I stepped outside I wished I had just stayed tucked up in bed. The heavens had opened up big style and never gave up all morning, by the time we had ridden out our final lot all the lads were absolutely saturated and looked like a bunch of drowned rats. This is the time of year the Aga comes in very useful, not so much for cooking but for drying all my riding out gear…I’d be lost without it! Thankfully it did dry up a bit in the afternoon so I went for a run around Middleham’s Low Moor just to keep fit and lose any of the weight I would have gained from last night. I’ve got my eyes set on that Christmas dinner so I want to be as light as possible on the lead up to it.
Sunday 23rd December
Today was declaration day for Boxing Day, with inspections planned for Wetherby and Sedgefield I opted to go for Market Rasen which seems a much safer option. The only downfall being the fields are pretty small and I only have 1 ride, the Richard Guest trained Pobs Trophy in the first race. I rode him out the last time I was in at Mr Guests yard and he was well in himself so hopefully he can do the business and make the trip worthwhile. I rode out 4 lots this morning then got into the Christmas spirit by watching a couple of my favourite films, The Grinch and Elf!!!
I hope you all have a brilliant Christmas and back a few winners on Boxing Day to recover some of the costs.
Thank you very much everyone and I’ll see you all next week.
All comments very much appreciated 🙂
All the best – Zander Voy (@Zander_Voy on Twitter)